Describe the different types of hearing loss.


Hearing loss can be classified as: conductive, sensorineural (perceptive), or combined loss. Problems of the external ear may also cause hearing impairment.

  • Conductive hearing loss is defined as hearing loss that occurs due to damage to the outer and/or middle ear. Congenital defects, various infections, foreign bodies that become temporarily lodged in the ear canal, and trauma to the tympanic membrane, can all cause conductive hearing loss. Individuals with this type of hearing loss can generally benefit from hearing aids that amplify sounds.
  • Diseases in the inner ear or nerve pathways can cause sensorineural (perceptive) hearing loss. The person with sensorineural hearing loss may have the following difficulties: loss of sensitivity to sound, inability to discriminate between sounds, and a loss of a sense of balance. The individual who experiences a loss of sensitivity will have a severe impairment that cannot be corrected with a hearing aid.
  • Combined hearing loss involves both conductive and sensorineural (perceptive) hearing impairment.
  • Problems of the external ear can result in hearing loss. This usually occurs due to trauma or infections.


Deutsch. “Hearing Impairments.” In P. Deutsch and H. Sawyer (Ed.) A Guide to Rehabilitation. White Plains, NY: AHAB Press.

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